Fourteen days left on the campaign trail have caught the three presidential candidates with Costa Rica´s leftist Citizen Action Party in near back-to-back debates as they fight for the undecided voters in their party.
Pollsters have pegged party founder Ottón Solís and legislator Epsy Campbell to be the top contenders going into the May 31 primary election. Yet, Román Macaya, who is rather new to the political stage, is said to have registered the most new voters in the party, and could pose a threat to either candidate.
In front of a sea of students at Heredia´s Inter-American University on Monday, the candidates faced off for a 90-minute discussion about education, security and the economic crisis – the three issues that have seemingly defined this campaign to date.
Because the candidates didn´t stray too far from their party´s line, the event was less of a debate and more of a discussion of the same message: That unregulated markets will further polarize the country, that corruption in political circles needs to be eradicated, and that the most important investment for the next administration should be in Costa Rica´s educational system.
“The university provided us with this unique opportunity to meet people who could potentially be our next president,” said Joaquín Badilla, an architecture student who expects to vote for a member of the Liberation Party (PLN), but decided to see what the other candidates offered. “It is an opportunity that few universities have.”
For Badilla, Campbell – who is vying to be the first Afro-Caribbean and female president – offered the best choice among the PAC candidates debating that day. “I believe in her,” he said.
Johana Rivera, who is studying media relations, Solís captured the debate and her vote.
“He is more real than the other candidates, more direct,” she said.
See the May 22 print or PDF edition of The Tico Times for more on this story.